News from the U.S. Province

Emmaus Library: A Cradle of Knowledge

Exterior of the new Emmaus Library
Library interior

A library is more than a resource for books and the knowledge they offer. It is a depository of truth and provides a whole army of defense against misinformation. A library provides a plethora of information. The Greek proverb, “A library is a repository of medicine for the mind” encapsulates the idea in a more succinct manner.

Emmaus Spirituality Centre (ESC) has a new library! The library’s construction began in May and was finally completed in September 2019.

The newly constructed and soon-to-be-opened library not only brings wealth to the amphitheater of knowledge and information, it is also a work of aesthetic value and object of admiration on the grounds of the propaedeutic seminary, which is operated by the Zambian Sulpicians of the United States Province for the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The library, semi-operational at the moment, is already providing our mainly “fresher” students with free materials for study and research. That they do not need to go out and purchase copies in order to access information is a huge benefit to them. It helps to save valuable time that could be otherwise squandered scrounging around public libraries for information.

For our young men, the new library comes also with the obvious advantage of improving and enhancing their literacy skills. Our usual encouragement as faculty members is that reading is vital for future leaders. The library affords the seminarians an atmosphere that is suitable to augment a seemingly, and notably sad, growing obsession among modern youth who prefer accessing knowledge through the unrestrained resource of social media.

The library is located right next to the classroom ensuring a sense of open access. It is spacious enough to offer a somewhat free space for both study and in-depth academic research to our students as well as, from to time to time, seminarians from St. Dominic’s Major Seminary and other learning institutions.  The large surface area of the library also means that it is able to accommodate a whole world of resources on various subjects ranging from ordinary reading and grammar books to highly scholarly and academic works on the spiritual life, theology, philosophy, history, and apologetics, as well as articles, magazines, and periodicals focusing on all sorts of topics.

Emmaus is indeed happy to have the library finally standing on its grounds – it is as beautiful as it is an arsenal of knowledge and liberty!

Fr. Neal Mulyata (Candidate)
Formation Faculty at Emmaus Spirituality Center

Paca Street Memories on 50th Anniversary

Left to right: Rev Daniel F. Moore, PSS, Mr. Fritz Gollery, Rev. Richard Gula, PSS, Sr. Suzanne Dulaney, IHM, Sr. Marcia Hall, OSP, Rev. Robert F. Leavitt, PSS, and Rev. Martin J. Burnham, PSS.

The year 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the closing of St. Mary’s Seminary on Paca Street. The Sulpician Province recognized this anniversary with a special prayer service of remembrance on October 16, 2019, during the alumni celebrations at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. Fr. Martin Burnham, PSS, as chaplain of the Paca Street chapel, presided; Fr. Daniel Moore, PSS, as First Consultor, welcomed everyone in the name of the Provincial, Fr. John Kemper, PSS, who was visiting the Sulpician African Mission; Sr.  Suzanne Delaney, IHM, and Sr. Marcia Hall, OSP, representing the two communities of religious women who had their beginnings at Paca Street, shared in leading prayers. Reflections of their experience of Paca Street were given by Mr. Fritz Gollery (1959), Fr. Richard Gula, PSS, (1969), and Fr. Robert Leavitt, PSS (1964).

Paca Street! Upon simply hearing this name, Paca Street, memories of the most formative years of my seminary life flood my imagination. I love looking back on my Paca Street experience from 1967 to 1969. For here, 50 years ago, I heard my call to the Sulpician vocation. I heard my call the way vocational calls are generally heard—through fascination. We follow fascination when we see someone acting in a way which we wish we were capable of.  We desire to do what we see  fascinating in another.

I come from the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania. Our diocese has an intense commitment to Catholic schools. In my time, most priests, especially those who showed an academic ability, were assigned to be a teacher. I came to Paca Street anticipating a ministry in Erie that would have a substantial academic component to it. So, my antennae were  up to find role models. When I met the Sulpicians at Paca Street, I felt like I made contact. They showed me that ministry as a teacher is a true pastoral ministry. I experienced in them, as a community of priests, enthusiastic about what they were doing, and, by all appearances, they also seemed to like one another. I found that fascinating. I apprenticed myself to them and began taking clues from how they lived as the next step for myself.

Education and formation at Paca Street were old school. That is to say, character was the objective. To form character, one of the jobs of the educator is to hold up examples—not only by being a good example yourself, but by putting students in contact with the best things humans have thought and done. In this remembrance, I want to pay tribute to the formation faculty at Paca Street for doing just that.

These men took their place as community men living in our midst, as Sulpicians do, not separated from us by living in a faculty house. They devoted themselves to the life of the community in all its forms. They were as present to the community schedule as we were expected to be.

Bill Lee was Rector then, and Bob Evers was Dean. They led as administrators in the very turbulent times of the late ’60s. They were willing to take the risk to transform seminary life to bring it in step with the times and with the renewal going on in the Church. Their courage fascinated me.

Philosophy studies brought us in touch with the great minds— Thomas “Butch” Leigh introduced us to phenomenology, Ed Connolly to Heidegger, and Joe Gallagher mined the mind of Aquinas—an excavation that uncovered the riches underlying the post-Vatican II reforms in theology. We were taught the great minds by great people.

They showed me that ministry as a teacher
is a true pastoral ministry.

Then there was Gene Walsh, John Greenalch,  and Ed Frazer bringing to life the renewal going on  in theology after the Council. Their enthusiasm whet my appetite to study it more deeply. The two youngest Sulpicians at that time, Pat Browne and Jim Gorman, were social scientists who tried to teach us the importance of knowing the assumptions of the culture that is shaping us and in which we would be called to minister.

And then there was Bob Gavin. Bob was not a classroom teacher. His teaching was done through the example of his Sulpician presence and pastoral charity. The power of his presence in the community was without parallel. He had an impact on everyone.

There is an old saying, “If you catch on fire with enthusiasm, people will come from miles to watch you burn.” There was something immensely impressive about the enthusiasm of the Paca people, and the Sulpician spirit there. I came from Erie to watch them burn! As I got closer to the fire, I was fascinated by the heat they generated. I  wanted to catch on fire, too, and be one of them.

Now, five decades later, I realize more than I realized when I graduated in 1969 just how much I was formed by the Paca people.

My years as a Sulpician have been indelibly marked by my Paca Street experience. My fascination with the Sulpicians at Paca Street gave me an initial enthusiasm to pursue a Sulpician vocation. That fascination has sustained me for these 50 years and fascinates me still. 

Richard M. Gula, PSS
Director of Personnel

Memories of Old St. Mary’s

Old St. Mary’s Seminary, A. A. Bodine photograph.

The year 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the closing of St. Mary’s Seminary on Paca Street. The Sulpician Province recognized this anniversary with a special prayer service of remembrance on October 16, 2019, during the alumni celebrations at St. Mary’s Seminary & University. Fr. Martin Burnham, PSS, as chaplain of the Paca Street chapel, presided; Fr. Daniel Moore, PSS, as First Consultor, welcomed everyone in the name of the Provincial, Fr. John Kemper, PSS, who was visiting the Sulpician African Mission; Sr.  Suzanne Delaney, IHM, and Sr. Marcia Hall, OSP, representing the two communities of religious women who had their beginnings at Paca Street, shared in leading prayers. Reflections of their experience of Paca Street were given by Mr. Fritz Gollery (1959), Fr. Richard Gula, PSS, (1969), and Fr. Robert Leavitt, PSS (1964).

I was just nineteen when I left home in Hartford, Connecticut, on a Trailways bus bound for Baltimore, Maryland. It was September 12, 1962. What I first remember seeing in the city was the big sign on Gordon’s Seafood House — “The crabs you eat today slept last night in the Chesapeake Bay.” I had never seen a hard crab in my life, much less tasted “Old Bay.” So, what would Paca Street be like?

Our rector in the early 1960s was J. Carroll McHugh. Beloved, respected, and wise like a grandfather, McHugh was affectionately nicknamed “Smiley McHugh.” Funny as he could be, rarely did Smiley ever laugh or crack a smile! Taking my assigned seat in the Prayer Hall that first day, Smiley McHugh was presiding from a small lectern on a raised dais. My attention focused first on the oil portraits hanging on the wall of deceased Sulpician superiors of Paca Street. There were the solemn faces of Francois Nagot, Jean-Marie Tessier, Louis Deluol, and the severe gaze of Francois Lhomme. Who were these men, I wondered, these “Gentlemen of St. Sulpice,” as they referred to themselves, these “Gents,” as we called them? Before being assigned to Paca Street by my archbishop in Hartford, I had never heard of the Society of St. Sulpice or the Sulpicians.

In those days, the spiritual wheelhouse of Old St. Mary’s was the Prayer Hall at the end of the main corridor. That was where the Sulpician Rule of Life was read and interpreted to form our minds and hearts as future priests. The community mustered in the Prayer Hall four times every day.

The five-story brick building with the mansard roof where I lived for two years in the early 1960s is gone. Its doors closed for the last time in 1969. The Paca Street Chapel of Old St. Mary’s Seminary, its face as always turned away from the street which gives it its name, alongside the Mother Seton House, is all that remains of the world I once knew.

The tiny Gothic chapel, after all these years and despite the renovations, still retains the scent of times past. It seemed so small to me when I  opened its doors in 1962 to visit and say a prayer. The main aisle seemed irreverently tiled in a black and white checkerboard pattern. The pews faced each other, choir style. The high marble altar was raised up three steps in the sanctuary. Behind it, in an elevated niche, was a painted Baroque Madonna and Child (itself long gone), as different from the Sedes Sapientiae which stands in the atrium at Roland Park as the two seminary worlds were from each other.

What precisely did our experience at Paca Street plant in us so many years ago? Thinking back on it now, for me at least, it was a deep respect for our Catholic faith and for the arts and sciences and philosophical reflection of a high order. The vocation of a diocesan priest, as the Sulpicians saw it, had to grow in a soil nourished by a daily spiritual rhythm of prayer and study and strong community life and public service. It was at Paca Street that I got my first taste of modern philosophy. At Paca Street, I first encountered Sulpicians who modelled for me those priestly qualities of mind I came to admire later at Roland Park and have never forgotten.

Most of the Faculty Gents at Paca Street who taught me almost sixty years ago were deeply religious and very well-educated men. There was William “Lugger” Lee, Eugene “Gino” Walsh, Thomas “Butch” Leigh, and Daniel “Danny” Fives. Who can forget James “Jimmy” Linehan and “the Old Dad,” Aloysius Bernhardt?

This chapel where we gather today is our American Sulpician birthplace. It is a crypt, a monument, a memory, a dream. When I was president-rector at Roland Park in the early 1980s, I instituted an annual visit of new seminarians to this chapel and these grounds to sense for themselves what that memory and dream are all about.

As for me, from the day I first arrived at North Paca Street in September 1962 until the day I left in June 1964, and for all the intervening years, whenever I have visited and closed my eyes after driving up and imagined again my younger self getting from the cab and hauling a suitcase up the front steps which are no more into an interior world lost in time, the memory and dream are as fresh as ever. 

Robert F. Leavitt, PSS
Paca Street Alumnus
1962–1964

Link by Link: Sulpicians Influence Elizabeth Seton

Mother Seton statue at St. Mary’s Spiritual Center & Historic Site.
Link by Link [1]

When Elizabeth Bayley Seton resolved to embrace the Catholic faith, she was of the mind: “I … trust all to God–it is his affair NOW.”[2] Sailing toward Baltimore aboard The Grand Sachem, Mrs. Seton wrote: “Tomorrow—do I go among Strangers? No.”[3] God had entrusted her destiny to the Reverend Gentlemen of the Seminary.[4]

Mrs. Seton providentially met Rev. William Dubourg, PSS, in New York. He invited her to begin a boarding school at Paca Street in Baltimore, Maryland. His “plan of life” for the young, devout widow and mother included forming a sisterhood. Dubourg asked his confreres to recruit candidates.[5] Rev. Pierre Babade, PSS, recommended the first, Cecilia O’Conway of Philadelphia.

The émigré Sulpicians knew of the Filles de la Charité service of impoverished persons throughout France. The priests sought to replicate the apostolic community, founded by Saints Louise de Marillac and Vincent  de Paul. A wealthy seminarian at St. Mary’s financed the purchase of property for the sisters but specified its location– Emmitsburg, not Baltimore.[6] When Mrs. Seton made private, annual vows at St. Mary’s, Archbishop Carroll gave her the title “Mother Seton.”

Rev. John Dubois, PSS, graciously provided accommodations at The Mountain for the first group to arrive, since their old farmhouse was not yet ready for occupancy. Although organized at Paca Street, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, was founded July 31, 1809, in St. Joseph’s Valley. Their ecclesiastical superior would be a Sulpician priest. Rev. François Nagot, PSS, superior in the United States, appointed Dubourg the first Sulpician superior.

Dubourg gave the Sisters provisional rules, their first retreat, initial spiritual formation, but immediately began, “acting like a tyrant,” and resigned abruptly. The issue involved his longstanding tension with Rev. Pierre Babade, PSS, whom the Sisters esteemed.[7] Despite Elizabeth’s protest, Nagot appointed a new Sulpician superior for the sisterhood, Rev. John B. David, PSS.

David knew that the Bishop- elect, Benedict Flaget, PSS, was about to depart for Paris. He immediately requested Flaget to obtain the Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity. Flaget did so, but also requested Filles de la Charité to come to America, either as mentors, or to facilitate  a union. Elizabeth  Seton opposed the latter. Providentially, Napoleon refused them passports. David’s authoritative manner and disdain for female competency  triggered personality clashes with most of the sisters. He resigned and departed for Kentucky at Flaget’s invitation.

Rev. John M. Tessier, PSS, superior of the Sulpicians in the United States in 1810, then appointed Dubois, Sulpician superior. Dubois and Mother Seton discussed the Daughters of Charity rules and recommended adaptations for the United States. Dubois translated the Rules into English and discussed them with the Sisters before sending the manuscript to Tessier and the Archbishop for approval in January 1812.

Dubois’s congenial style characterized his ten years of collaboration with Mother Seton. Together they established the school at St. Joseph’s. A hard- working man of integrity, he was a practical businessman with pastoral sensitivity, and became a trusted mentor for William and Richard Seton. Tireless as a sacramental priest, even in freezing weather Dubois galloped on horseback to celebrate Mass. Mother Seton referred to him as a “superexcellent Priest.”[8]

Mother Seton befriended numerous seminarians. Her respect for the priesthood and sacred liturgy caused her to scold Rev. John Hickey, PSS, for a poorly prepared sermon, telling him: “If you will not study and prepare while young, what when you are old?”[9]

Mother Seton forged a deep spiritual friendship with Rev. Simon G. Bruté, an erudite bibliophile, whom she helped to improve his English pronunciation. She even wrote some of his  sermons. Bruté and Dubois formed the Sisters of Charity in the Vincentian tradition, planting the charism in American soil. Both ministered to Mother Seton at her death, January 4, 1821.

Mother Seton would have described her links to the Sulpicians as fifteen years of blessings which led her to Divine Love: “Link by link the blessed chain … one Body in Christ … who could escape this bond of unity, peace, and love–O my Soul be fastened link by link.”[10]  Saint Paul VI canonized Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton 14 September 1975.

Betty Ann McNeil, DC
Vincentian Scholar-in-Residence and
noted Elizabeth Ann Seton scholar

Endnotes

[1] Title derived from “Link by link the blessed ” See 11.57, Prayer Book Inscription, Regina Bechtle, S.C., and Judith Metz, S.C., eds., Ellin M. Kelly, mss. ed., Elizabeth Bayley Seton Collected Writings, 3 vols. (New City Press: New York, 2000- 2006), 3b:108. Hereinafter cited as CW.

[2] 3.31, Journal to Amabilia Filicchi, [February-March 1805], CW, 1:374­­­–5.

[3] 5.1, to Cecilia Seton, 9 June 1808, CW, 2:5.

[4] 5.3, To Julia Scott, 4 July 1808, CW, 2:14.

[5] 5.4, To Antonio Filicchi, Baltimore 8 July 1808, CW, 2:18.

[6] Samuel Sutherland Cooper, retired sea captain and recent convert of

[7] 6.4 To Archbishop John Carroll, [August 6, 1809], CW, 2:78.

[8] 6.39, To Antonio Filicchi, 20 May 1810, CW, 2: 126-30.

[9] 6.195, To Simon Bruté, 8 May 1815, CW, 2:323.

[10] 11.57 Prayer Book Inscription, CW, 3b:108.